Roman swords discovered in Dead Sea cave 1,900 years after Jewish rebellion

Further excavation of the same cave found artifacts dating as far back as the Chalcolithic period, about 6,000 years ago.

The unique dryness of the desert provides perfect conditions for the survival of ancient artifacts. Last year, experts announced the discovery of silver coins dating back 2,200 years, to the time of the Maccabean Revolt.

“Not all are aware that the dry climatic conditions pertaining in the Judean Desert enable the preservation of artifacts that do not survive in other parts of the country,” said Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“This is a unique time capsule, whereby fragments of scrolls, coins from the Jewish Revolt, leather sandals, and now even swords in their scabbards, sharp as if they had only just been hidden away today.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out an extensive survey in the caves around the Judean Desert in an attempt to prevent looting. So far, hundreds of caves have been searched and 24 excavations carried out over six years.

Israel Sword Discovery
From right: Dr. Asaf Gayer, Oriya Amichay, Dr. Eitan Klein and Amir Ganor inspect the newly discovered swords. Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority

“In the course of the project, we unfortunately encountered tens of caves that have been plundered since 1947,” said Amir Ganor, director of the Antiquities Looting Prevention Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority and one of the directors of the survey project.

“I shudder to think how much historical knowledge would have been lost had the looters reached the amazing artifacts in this cave before the archaeologists,” he added.

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